NEW YORK — Robin Howe Grossman, former vice president and chief designer of Jones New York, died of triple-negative breast cancer on Wednesday morning at her Sag Harbor, N.Y., home. She was 52.
This story first appeared in the November 6, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The British-born designer received a certificate from the London College of Fashion and a degree from the Parsons School of Design, where she received the Gold Thimble award. She began her fashion career at Adri and became the designer of Basco for Barneys New York. She was then appointed vice president and chief designer of Jones New York, where she worked for 16 years; during that time, the business grew to $1 billion in sales from $50 million. Grossman later became design director for Calvin Klein better sportswear at GAV, which was established by her husband, Andrew Grossman, and Alexander Vreeland and financed by Jay Schottenstein. In 2007, Grossman launched the Robin Howe sportswear collection for High Fashion International Ltd., selling in stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.
“Robin was a great unheralded talent with a keen British sense of humor and more importantly, a strong realistic sense of commercialism,” said Sidney Kimmel, former chairman of the Jones Group Inc. a Hollywood producer and philanthropist. “In addition, she met her future husband, Andy Grossman, when she joined Jones, and I had the distinct pleasure of watching a love affair unfold right before my eyes. She was brilliant.” He added that of all his designers, she was probably the most important one for the Jones label.
“She had impeccable taste,” said Vreeland. He explained that, when GAV first received the Calvin Klein license, Calvin Klein had never done better sportswear. “She had a really clear sensibility of what Calvin Klein could be in ready-to-wear. She came out with a whole look of what Calvin could be in those categories and prices, and she created a vision for that brand,” he said. At Jones, she provided “a wonderful balance of modernity [and] wearability and a sensibility about career clothes and looking elegant,” he added.
Grossman met her husband when he was president of Jones New York. They left the city several years ago and moved to Sag Harbor, where Grossman got involved in the community and enjoyed such hobbies as yoga, painting and designing jewelry.
“Robin was a uniquely talented fashion designer. She was also a true creative artist who counted painting and jewelry design as passions. But what truly made her special was her absolute love for her husband, Andy; her two sons, Sam and Will; her daughter, Jane, and her entire family and friends. She had a warrior spirit until the very end, [when she was] surrounded by those she loved very much,” said Mindy Grossman, chief executive officer of HSN Inc. and her sister-in-law.
“She had incredible style. She was really a fun woman, and her taste level was superb,” added industry consultant Stuart Kreisler, who admired the way she decorated her homes in Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Services will be held on Friday at 1 p.m. at Gutterman’s, 8000 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, N.Y. Donations can be made to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.